St. Olaf is an extraordinarily safe place. Students usually feel comfortable leaving their doors unlocked. When you head to the cafeteria, you're likely to see piles of student backpacks, and even computer bags, left unguarded without any worry. Of course, there are occasional incidents. A couple times a year laptops are stolen from unlocked rooms. Also, a few times a year, students, usually females, will report forcible fondlings or, even less often, rape. Severe occurrences of theft, violence, or sexual assault remain few and far between.
This sanctuary-like environment is not the result of an intense security presence but is most likely the result of certain geographic and cultural factors. Olaf's hilltop location in a small Minnesota town definitely lends itself to the campus' safety. Also, the College and most of its students place sincere emphasis on personal and community values. Residence halls are unlocked until midnight, when they can be unlocked with a student keycard. Each hall also has a student working the front desk until midnight on the weekdays and 2 a.m. on the weekends, but students, guests, and visitors are granted free roam without signing in or out. There are a few scattered emergency phones on campus in case a student needs assistance for any reason, and the Public Safety officers can also be seen patrolling the campus 24 hours a day.